Throughout my early years as a diabetic I had no major health problems and I coasted along rather easily. I was always very skinny, maybe slightly underweight, until many years later. I had high urine sugar every day and usually at night. There were, however, some nights that I had very bad hypos. My bedroom door was always left open at night and my room was immediately across the hall from my parent’s room. Mother was keyed in to my thrashing about and the moans I would make when having a hypo. She would jump out of bed and grab the glass containg several tablespoons of sugar. She stopped at the bathroom and partially filled the glass with water, stirred the mixture with a spoon and entered my room. Daddy raised my body and sat on the bed behind me and held me while Mother slowly poured the sugar water into my mouth. This usually worked very well but occasionally my mouth was clinched so tightly that she could not get any of the liquid into my mouth. She would rub some of the liquid on my lips and I would lick my lips. This gave me just enough sugar so I would start to relax and then she could get me to swallow some of the sugar water. I would come out of these hypos not remembering any part of what had happened. I was always so grateful that they took such good care of me at those times. I have no idea how many of these hypos I had before I was an adult but I know there were many of them. There was probably one per week on the average.
Mother had a very hard time with my diabetes even though she was an excellent caretaker. She had terrible asthma during most of my preteen years. I remember her smoking cigarettes that contained a kind of medicine. She would inhale the smoke and the medicinal vapor entered her lungs and helped her to breath more freely. There was no tobacco involved. These cigarettes were prescribed by our doctor. Mother would have a terrible time with her asthma after each of my hypos. She was a very nervous person and took medicine for her nerves. She also had large vericose veins. They were causing her many problems and she would wear elastic stockings to give herself some relief. A doctor suggested that she have the vericose veins removed from her legs. The surgery was very successful. She stopped wearing the elastic stockings and her asthma improved. After a few months she never again had asthma problems. Now how do you explain that? I was still having hypos and that still made her nervous but no more asthma. Is it possible that the surgery had some connection? It does not seem likely but we were all very happy that her days of terrible asthma were over.
When I had just started eighth grade I had intestinal flu. I stayed at home several days and I could not keep anything in my stomach, not the medicine the doctor had prescribed and not even water. My parents thought that since I was not eating then they should not give ne insulin. They were afraid I would have a hypo. They did not check this out with the doctor. After several days of no food, no water, no medicine and no insulin I was so weak I could not lift my arms and I was barely able to move my head. The doctor came to our house. He called an ambulance. I stayed in the hospital almost two weeks. I recovered very well and returned to school. I hope that those of you reading this know that you need your insulin even if you are not eating. You still need your “basal” insulin under these conditions but you do not need your “bolus” insulin if you are not eating.
I have reported on my first two years of college. I was dating Linda during my sophomore year. We continued dating, on and off, for four more years after that but it it was only a friendship and we never fell in love. I never dated a second girl until after my first year in graduate school.
A very strange thing happened during my junior year in college. I was taking second year French and my teacher was from Paris. There was a teacher exchange program and one of Roanoke College’s English teachers went to Paris to teach and a French teacher taught for two years at our college. He was an excellent teacher and I really liked him. I loved the French language and he praised me for having excellent pronunciation of the French words. I gave an oral report on a French book I had read and he singled me out and told the class that they should all give a report like I had done. I was very embarassed. I felt like a teacher’s pet. I had never been in a situation like that before. I had friends in the class who were giving me funny looks but they never talked to me about it. During the second semester there was a French play and my teacher wanted me to be the leading character in the play. I told him I could never do that, I was much too shy. It took all the courage I had in me to give that book report. I was concerned that my grade for the second semester would be affected by my refusing to appear in the play. I received an A and I was relieved. He was going to return to France at the end of that semester. He approached me and asked me to consider going with him. He said my French vocabulary and my pronunciation were so good that I would fit in immediately. MOI??? I told him I thought I might teach math at the college level. He insisted that I could teach at a college in France. He wanted me to live in his home with him until I found a place of my own. I was very naieve and immature then and I just explained that with my diabetes and my having more years of college ahead of me I could not go. He was disappointed but we were on good terms the last time I saw him. Should I have gone??? I am glad I didn’t, I had a very wonderful life ahead of me here in the country I loved so much.
I quit working at the supermarket just before the fall semester of my senior year. I had saved enough to pay for all the tuition for that year. My grades had not been as good as I had hoped during my first three years of college because I had worked so many hours at the supermarket and I went to classes with incomplete homework and I would fall asleep while studying at night after work hours. I always became very tired even when I had not worked very hard. I am sure that was due to my diabetes. I could not fully concentrate in class and on tests. I would have made better grades, if I did not have to pay my own tuition and work at that store. My senior year was different and I did not have to work at the store ever again. I made four A’s and one B each semester. That pulled up my overall grade point average and I graduated with honors. My parents and some relatives attended my graduation. I wanted to tell my parents “See! You said I could not do this because of my diabetes, but I DID!!!” I never told them that. I’m happy that I kept my mouth shut. Working my way through college was good experience and it really helped me mature. I loved my parents and they loved me. Nothing ever came between us.
Tomorrow, graduate school and my first time falling in love.